Questions About Our Nail Art

What is nail art?

Nail art is a unique visual and tactile 3D art form that fashions an image from an irregular distribution of nails hammered into a board. Tones and textures are simulated by varying the density of nails, with higher densities corresponding to darker tones. Nail art is essentially the 3D analog of stippling or pointillism, which are traditional artistic methods for rendering images using dot patterns. We use headless nails instead of dots to produce stunning 3D artwork.

Why nail art?

We are inspired by the work of British artists David Foster and Marcus Levine. They leveraged the concept of image stippling and pointillism to produce beautiful works of art based exclusively on the use of nails. Each of their nail art pieces can take several weeks to complete as they utilize tens of thousands of nails that are positioned free-hand without any tracing on the board. Not surprisingly, their gallery work commands high prices. We are motivated by the desire to lower the production cost of this stunning art form to make it accessible to a larger segment of consumers. We achieve cost savings by exploiting digital technology and robotics to streamline design and manufacturing. All of our art is designed by hand and assembled with our customized hardware. Our proprietary process reduces production time from weeks to hours.

How did you get interested in nail art?

Our interest in nail art stems from our fascination with pointillism, which forms images through the use of many distinct dots. It is a product of the classic art form first developed by neo-Impressionist painters Georges Seurat and Paul Signac in 1886. The allure of pointillism is that it distills images into primitive dot patterns, and challenges our brain to fuse them to perceive continuous tones. The economy of dots in pointillism is a refreshing counterpoint to images marked by hyper-resolution and color vibrancy. Pointillism sits at the opposite end of the spectrum, allowing us to relish in its abstraction and in our interaction with the piece to explore meaning from multiple viewpoints and levels of resolution. Our use of nails to extrude flat dots into their 3D counterparts is a 21st century twist that allows us to add another dimension to the classic art form.

How is your nail art produced?

We utilize a two-stage system to produce nail art. First, we remove the background from a color photograph and convert the foreground into a grayscale image. We then apply a stippling/pointillism algorithm to convert that image into an irregular distribution of black and white pixels. Tones are simulated by varying the densities of the black pixels. Their positions are collected to form a blueprint that specifies the locations of the brass-colored nails on a white board. In the second stage, the blueprint is passed to a robot to quickly and accurately insert a nail into the board at each prescribed location. We use premium 18"x24", 20"x20", and 22"x36" canvas-wrapped boards. All of our art is designed by hand and assembled with our customized hardware.

How does nail art achieve its effect?

Nail art resembles a dotted image when seen from a distance. As the artwork is approached more closely, the art comes to life as the viewer notices that the dots are actually thousands of nails that harmoniously coalesce to form the big picture. The viewer then appreciates the art over multiple distances, observing the forest (image) from the trees (nails) and the trees from the forest.

What makes nail art so engaging?

Nail art engages the viewer to observe this 3D art across a wide range of distances and angles, where lighting and shadows induce varying appearances. In addition, the self-occlusion of the nails makes the image appear darker and change tonality when viewed obliquely from the side. This ability to view the art differently across large distances and angles makes the viewing of nail art a very visceral and active experience. 

How many nails are in the art work?

The number of nails varies based on the image and the board size. Generally, though, there are about 10,000 nails in the smaller 18"x24" and 20"x20" boards, and about 20,000 nails in the larger 22"x36" boards. Multi-panel options are available upon request.

Is your nail art available in color?

Nail art is a monochromatic abstraction of a photograph. It does not readily lend itself to detailed color reproduction. If color were to be applied to nail art, it would be best suited to apply a single color to a cluster of nails, such as those associated with the red lips of a face. We do not use colored nails nor do we manually paint the nail clusters at this time.

How do I order nail art?

There are two ways of ordering. You can either shop from our catalog or create nail art directly from a digital photo (jpg) that you supply.  Simply select the "Shop" link at the top of the home page to order from our catalog of designs. If you wish to create custom art from your photo, select the "Create" link to fill out a form and upload your jpg file. We will email you a link to a private web page showing you renderings of the nail art for different sized boards. If you are satisfied with our simulated results, you can pay for the desired size so we can fabricate your custom order and ship it within a week. The cost of the artwork will be dependent on the number of nails used to produce the nail art. Our artwork is available in three sizes: 18"x24", 20"x20", and 22"x36".

How much does your nail art cost?

Prices are based on the number of nails in the artwork, which is related to the image and board size. Our catalog of designs gives you some indication of the price range. Custom jobs based on your supplied image includes a $100 surcharge for design time. Therefore, custom orders for 18"x24" or 20"x20" boards will average around $450, while 22"x36" boards will cost approximately $900. Prices will vary based on nail counts. All prices include free shipping within the US. International shipping is available at an additional charge.

Why the name "NailPoint"?

"NailPoint" is an amalgam of two essential elements of our art: nails in the service of pointillism. Our use of headless nails appear as points in our dotted art, which follows in the spirit of classic pointillism.